Eight Questions You Have Every Right To Ask About Eggnog
5. What flavorings are commonly used in eggnog?
Without delving into contradictory recipes (these will be offered in due course during Eggnog Week on FiTR), it should be pointed out that it's a rare eggnog that doesn't feature nutmeg, often both put in the recipe, and sprinkled on top. It's a sweet and aromatic spice that never fails to generate a holiday spirit, especially in drinks and baked goods. The spice originated in the Southeast Asian Spice Islands and was brought by Columbus back to Spain, from which it spread throughout Europe and from there to America.
Egg yolks enrich the flavor of eggnog, and so do whole milk or even cream. The color of eggnog comes principally from the egg yolks, and if dark rum or whisky is added, that further deepens and intensifies the color. Many commercial dairy egg nogs assume that a rum flavoring should always be part of the mix; to that end, many use artificial rum flavoring.
6. Isn't eggnog dangerous to your health?
When the first egg-yolk salmonella scare arose in 1992 -- it has recurred frequently since then -- laws were passed in some states prohibiting the serving of uncooked eggs in any form. And from thenceforth many recipes for the beverage published in magazines and newspapers included a pasteurization step to kill the bacillus after the beverage was concocted but before it was served. Of course, with access to free-range eggs, the brave can ignore that step, because it does really lead to an impoverishment of the flavor, and a lessening of the rich texture imparted by the whipped raw egg yellow and white.
7. Is eggnog better hot or cold?
Definitely cold, or approaching room temperature, which makes it taste creamier.
8. Then what the hell is a Tom and Jerry, if not eggnog with rum?
Named after the leads in a 19th century English play called Life in London, or the Day and Night Scenes of Jerry Hawthorn Esq. and his Elegant Friend Corinthian Tom and not the Hanna-Barbera cartoon characters, Tom and Jerry is a drink associated with New York's most prominent bartender and ur-mixologist professor Jerry Thomas, who wrote the country's first bartending guide, published in 1862. His recipe was basically just heated eggnog, with the only ingredients being beaten egg, rum, and warmed milk. The absence of sugar or other flavorings in his recipe is rather arresting, and, according to Epicurious, he was so adamant about it being a cold-weather-only beverage, that he refused to serve it before the first snowfall in Gotham. Newer recipes are more elaborate and often involve multiple forms of alcohol, with the beverage served as a punch.
"Professor" Jerry Thomas, New York's first mixologist
Follow me on Twitter if you dare -- @robertsietsema